Only half of old diesel cars in Germany actually get scrapped

Diesel car owners who take advantage of Germany´s scrapping premium might be helping the environment in a different way than intended. Many dealerships are selling those cars to Eastern Europe or Africa instead.

The German car scrapping bonus (Umwelt- or Abwrackprämie) was intended as an environmnetal incentive for owners of older vehicles to turn them in and receive a discount on new, more environmentally friendly cars. It was introduced in 2009, just after the financial down-turn, and gave both automobile sales and the vehicle financing segment an extraordinary boost.

The true environmental gain, however, was questionable from the start. The energy and emissions of a new car might outweigh the environmental footprint of scrapping an older car before ist time. Since new cars tend to be heavier and have stronger engines than older models, the emissions of newer cars aren´t necessesarily lower than those of older cars.

It turns out that under the Abwrackprämie, only about half of the old diesel cars actually get scrapped, as reported by Automobilwoche. Nearly every fifth dealer scraps just 1-10% of the cars. The rest are re-sold to Africa and Eastern Europe, and business is booming.

The second half of 2017 saw the amount of used diesel cars on the market in Poland increase markedly. Africa is the real winner though. Due to the Ukraine crisis, a large part of these cars are going to Africa, according to Frank Perez Junior of the automobile group Dirkes in Cologne. This might even be helpful to the environment, he states. In Africa, a Euro 4-diesel is still relatively modern.

The biggest losers are the owners of Euro 5-diesel (newer than 4) cars, which are not eligible for the premium bonus. Their cars are dropping in value, and no one is there to help them out.

Photo credit: Volkswagen

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